Friday, April 30, 2010

Bonsai tree: Flowering Bonsai #3

I’m not sure what this is and I apologize for the somewhat blurry image. Beyond that, it’s another example of a flowering bonsai that is designed to show off its flowers rather than its bonsai chops. In fact, without its flowers, it’s quite conventional with its commercial spiral S shape and funky nebari. I got it from the April page on our 2010 bonsai calendar.
Aha! A little better. This satsuki azalea holds its own as a bonsai, with or without flowers. I borrowed the image from Classic Bonsai of Japan, a one-of-a-kind standard that never goes out of date.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bonsai tree: More Flowering Bonsai

English hawthorn bonsai 
An informal upright English hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha). When it comes to flowering trees, Japanese bonsai artists often look at how the design of the tree shows off the flowers, rather than looking for how the tree conforms to classical bonsai styles. In other words, this tree, without it showy display of flowers is nothing special. With its flowers though, it lights up and becomes a thing of great beauty.
Azalea bonsai
This flowering azalea would stand as an excellent bonsai even without its flowers. With it showy display of white blossoms it becomes and even more excellent.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bonsai tree: River Critiques: We Have Two Winners!

Way back on April 4th, we asked our readers to critique this planting (A River in India by Lew Buller, in his Saikei and Art). Now, we have two winners. First place ($25 gift certificate to Stone Lantern): Donna Lynn. Second place ($15 gift certificate): Zack Clayton. (winners can contact to find out how to get your prizes).
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Bonsai tree: Case study: balance – follow-up

The tree from Tuesday’s Case study was shown this past January at Bay Island Bonsai’s 11th annual exhibit.
Japanese black pine as shown at BIB’s 11th annual exhibit
I hope Boon will share the tree’s story some day – it’s a good one. The tree has been in development for a long time from nursery stock and is looking really good. Here’s a close-up showing the spring candles. Note how well the tree’s strength is balanced from top to bottom.
Spring candles on Japanese black pine – the tree is in great health
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bonsai tree: Flowering Bonsai

This wildly colorful Satsuki Azalea is from a Flowering Bonsai Gallery. If you take a close look at the flowers, you’ll see that there are a number of different shades and patterns. Mother nature needed a little help from her friends to accomplish this kind of striking variation. For the best information on Satsuki Azaleas in print, check out Robert Callaham’s Satsuki Azaleas for Bonsai and Azalea Enthusiasts.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Bonsai tree: America’s Oldest Bonsai Collection

Two trees from one at The Larz Anderson Collection. I borrowed this image from Colin Lewis’ Bonsai Art website in the Larz Anderson section. Here’s what Colin has to say about this photo: Known as “Mother and daughter,” these two trees were originally one, until a lower branch, with its own set of roots, became separated from the main trunk in 1969.
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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bonsai tree: Prune or Wire? How About Both?

The instructions are geared for beginning bonsai enthusiasts.
You can grow decent bonsai without wiring. However, I know of no bonsai that doesn’t require some pruning. If just pruning without wiring works to achieve a desirable effect, then just prune. Trunks and branches that grow without wiring tend to look more natural.
Not all trunks and branches that grow on their own look good. In the top drawing above, the branches are too straight and uninteresting, so wiring is appropriate. Most bonsai artist use wire. Some use it a lot, some more sparingly.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Bonsai tree: Case study: balance

Balance is one of my favorite topics for bonsai discussions. The term can be used broadly – I recently mentioned a few of the possibilities in relation to trees exhibited this year by the Bay Area Bonsai Associates.
One of the more primary considerations is whether a tree points left or right. Getting direction right has a big effect on a tree’s overall balance and is key to setting up formal displays. Just this week I’ve had several discussions about the direction of the tree below. It’s a Japanese black pine.
Black pine silhouette
It’s a great case study. Looking at it brings up a number of questions for me.
  • Does the tree point left or right?
  • What makes you think so?
  • Does the tree have good balance?
  • Would the tree look better if it pointed the other direction?
  • Are there areas for improvement?
I’m curious to hear what you think about it: feel free to share your ideas – even if it’s your tree! Read more!

Bonsai tree: Bonsai tattoo

A little over the top? Cool body art? Gross? Interesting? Not? Whatever you or I might think, tattoos are everywhere these days. BTW: I enjoy good body art but I’m not sure about this one which turned up on my facebook home page.
Exactly one year ago today, we featured our first bon-tat post. Auspiciously this one just popped up on facebook. Are you ready for yours? When you are and you do it, please send us a photo and we’ll make you famous.

Here’s another one I found by following the facebook link. I’m not sure about this one either. Any thoughts?

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bonsai tree: CBS Bonsai Segment

Last Sunday CBS ran a segment on bonsai. It was shot in two places: The National Bonsai and Penjing Museum in Washington DC and at Felix Laughlin’s farm in Virginia.
“If you do it right it will always look better the next year.” This happy truth was uttered by Felix Laughlin - President of the National Bonsai Foundation. You can find this here and a range of other statements and some excellent footage of some great trees and more at the National Bonsai Foundation’s website.
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bonsai tree: Another Budi, Another Pemphis

Pemphis acidula by Budiman Darmansjah. Here’s Budiman’s reply when I asked him if I could use it: “You can use it as you want. It is Pemphis acidula, grow on limestone rock at seaside. I collected this tree in 2000. Length of trunk is 105 cm.” (105 cm = 41 inches)
Just yesterday we posted a Pemphis acidula by Budi Sulistyo, a well known Indonesian bonsai artist and author of Tropical Bonsai Gallery. Now we have another Pemphis by another Budi. Though it may not be quite as eye-popping as yesterday’s, still, it’s a good tree with lots of character, that, at a glance, might be mistake for a shore juniper (Juniperus procumbens).
Another powerful bonsai by Budiman. Anyone know what it is?

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bonsai tree: Say Goodbye to an Old Classic

Almost gone. Our classic Pine book is down to less than 40 copies. We originally printed 5,200, so it’s been a pretty good run.
While it lasts we request that you limit yourself to one per person. Thanks.
At this point, we have no plans to reprint, though in a year or two, we could change our minds.
Another classic. While we are at it, here’s another worthy classic. We’re not about to run out yet, but it’s a great book and it’s on special at Stone Lantern now.
Source: Bonsai Bark
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Bonsai tree: Budi’s Stupendous Bonsai

Stupendous is a good start in the search for words to describe this old full cascade Pemphis acidula by Budi Sulistyo. Ahh, to live in the tropics where stuff like this grows everywhere.
If you’d like to impress your friends, you can buy Budi’s excellent Tropical Bonsai Gallery book, cut out the pictures and frame them, and tell everyone the bonsai are yours and that the reason you don’t have them anymore is they were blown away in a hurricane, but, thank goodness, you still have the photos.
Budi’s book.

Another sweet tree from Budi’s album. I don’t know what it is, but I like it and the way it is presented.

Budi with his monster.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Bonsai tree: Felix Laughlin’s Photos from Japan

Rarely so red. You don’t see too many Junipers in red pots. For that matter you don’t see that many bonsai in red pots. It’s a tough color to work with, especially when it’s this bright. And no, the juniper isn’t dead; it just has a strong case of winter color. It resides at Mr. Daizo Iwasaki’s Takasago-an.
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Bonsai tree: Fifty Years of Bonsai By the Bay



A note from Lawrence LeClaire (BSSF President)

May 22 & 23, 2010 – Bonsai Society of San Francisco 50th Anniversary Celebration and Show at the County Fair Building.
The Bonsai Society of San Francisco will be holding their 50th anniversary celebration at the County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park on Saturday, May 22 from 5PM-10PM. The night’s events will feature cocktails from 5-6PM, a catered buffet dinner from 6PM-7PM, and a bonsai demonstration by Kathey Shaner, curator of the Bonsai Garden at Lake Merritt from 7:30PM-10PM. The demonstration material is an old Japanese white pine and will be raffled at the end of the demonstration. We will have an additional special raffle of quality bonsai trees and related material at the celebration as well. A BSSF member bonsai sales area will be open to our guests for the entire evening. We invite members of the bonsai community to attend. Please RSVP at (415)621-0935 or email at RSVP(at) by May 15, 2010. Please include your name and number of guests that will attend.
On Sunday, May 23 our bonsai display will be free and open to the public. The show will feature 20 Tokonoma displays, bonsai displays, bonsai demonstrations, hourly bonsai raffles, a bonsai clinic, and a giant club sales area. Visit the BSSF website for information and updates.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bonsai tree: Spring bonsai display

Bay Island Bonsai’s annual exhibit is held in January each year. It is a great time to show bonsai, but it’s not always the most colorful time of year. At a recent BIB monthly meeting, we worked on a display that included a Japanese black pine and a Japanese maple. In winter, the maple would be bare. In spring, the foliage is bright green.
Boon setting up a display at a BIB monthly meeting
Or bright red. Boon brought two maples to try with the display, one green and one red.
Green and red Japanese maples
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bonsai tree: Thinking Inside the Box

This radically tilted Prunus mume (Flowering Japanese apricot) is by Chiharu Imai.
After. Mr. Imai saw something when he put it in the box, and this is it.
Before the big tilt and some well executed artistry that included removing the strange second trunk that runs up to the first branch.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bonsai tree: Same François Jeker


Okay. More François. After all, he’s coming to the U.S., so why not? And, he just sent us these images and I like them and thought you might like them too.
Check out François’ excellent book, Bonsai Aesthetics, now on special at Stone Lantern.
Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Bonsai tree: Win a Free Gift Certificate

A River in India, by Lew Buller. From his book, Saikei and Art: Minature Landscapes.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bonsai tree: Repotting a Japanese maple

Back in winter I took a few photographs of an air-layered Japanese maple getting repotted during a Bay Island Bonsai workshop.
Combing out the roots – Japanse maple ’sango kaku’
The new roots are well established. The next step is to get them to fuse while improving the ramification. Jeff, the tree’s owner, kicked off this phase by bare-rooting the tree and repotting it into a large, shallow, growing container.
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Bonsai tree: Land of Paradise

Land of Paradise, our forth in a series of plantings from Toshio Kawamoto’s Saikei classic. The trees are seven 5 to 7-year-old rock cotoneasters (4″ – 7″ tall) and seven somewhat shorter 3-year-old satsuki azaleas. Though you can’t really tell in the photo, the pot is very large (48″ x 16″ – 122cm x 41cm).
Side view diagram.
Bird’s eye diagram. This shows what looks like two rocks are actually fifteen joined together.
The purpose of this section is to show how to create a saikei that depicts two wild rocky mountains that are dotted with beautiful old trees. The photo taken together with the drawings, create the impression that the author is inviting you to duplicate his work.
What looks at a glance like two large rocks are actually fifteen stones joined together. The original text says: secure the rocks with peat and sphagnum moss then fill in the spaces between the rock with soil. The remaining materials are green moss and river sand.
The Land of Paradise refers to the indescribably beautiful Pure Land that is described in some Chinese and Japanese Buddhist scriptures.

Source: Bonsai Bark Read more!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bonsai tree: François Jeker bonsai artist

It’s a little fuzzy, but you can still see the time consuming detail in François Jeker’s carving. It’s especially noteworthy because the tree is a yew (taxus), a genus known for the hardness of its wood.
This post is a continuation of the day before yesterday’s post about François appearing at Rosade Bonsai Studio on May 15th.
Borrowed from François‘ website. I’m not sure what it is, but I know I like the pot, the tree and the creative presentation.
Also from François’ website.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bonsai tree: A Wild Larch

Inspiration for your bonsai. This photo is from Bonsaimania. If anyone has any clues, I would like to know where this photo was taken.
Here’s what Bonsaimania has to say about their gallery in English: “These trees are real and they can be found in nature. They are on this album because they are models that should inspire us to create our bonsai. If you want to propose a tree in nature that will inspire us, send me a message through my Facebook profile”.
Larch Master Nick Lenz’s Bonsai from the Wild has an extensive section on collecting and growing larch. Nick know larches like know one knows larch.
Here’s another one from the same gallery. Buttonwood?

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bonsai tree: Transplanting Tips: An Uncommon Technique

Mystified? If you are not familiar with the technique shown here, you just might be.
The technique shown here is particularly good if you want to replenish the soil while leaving some of the roots undisturbed. Doing this lessens stress and hastens recovery.
The technique is useful when you want move a tree from a larger to a smaller pot, or into a pot that has a different shape. It also works when you want to replenish some of the soil and then put the tree back into the same pot and is particularly useful for repotting forest plantings.
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Friday, April 2, 2010

Bonsai tree: Styling a white pine bonsai

My friend Konnor brought this Japanese White pine to my studio for a wiring session this past week. It was originally an imported tree from Japan. We did not get a shot of it before we started, but when it was about 3/4 finished we did finally get the camera out:

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